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Build A New Capital With A Chanage Mindset

Macro-systemic shifts in ecosystems will take time but we need to lay the foundation now using frameworks such as the BEA

@70, we marvel at how far we have progressed but at many levels we are 70 years behind, and the perennial half-glass-full-or-empty question never fades away. If the neighbouring China was able to build new ecosystems from scratch, why shouldn’t New India?

On the Independence Day, the prime minister extended the-hope-as-strategy platform further: Build a New India with innovation, mindset change and new processes by 2022. But he never mentioned how. Independent India has never seen a single elected government that has delivered all its poll promises. From DeMo and Make-in-India to employment creation, we see the lack of execution, which has always been India’s bane. We proposed a proven framework,Balanced Execution Agenda (BEA), to bridge the execution chasm by mapping the vision of NEW INDIA into operational terms with aligned objectives, metrics, initiatives and governance mechanism.NITI Aayog is still undecidedas to how an NGO can do all thatsans the big fees it is used to paying.

The government is still perceived with dread. How many of us enjoy stepping into a government office for any work, be it for a birth certificate, land record, or say, passport renewal? Why can’t these experiences be as pleasant as in a private bank or at least a two-star hotel? Impossible, did you say? When we cannot even set our minds to pluck the lowest hanging fruit, do we imagine the new hope of New India will materialise out of the blue?

Macro-systemic shifts in ecosystems will take time but we need to lay the foundation now using frameworks such as the BEA. The perceptional issues of government can be addressed quickly and incisively. Our research shows that, on an average in a State, 50% employees are teachers, 15% in healthcare and 10% in police and transport services. Citizens do not complain much about these sectors (except for police in some North Indian States) since they get their jobs done to some levels of satisfaction. That leaves the source of poor perception entirely to the balance 25% of employees who work out of other government offices like urban development, agriculture, revenue and so on. Of this, about one third are Class-C employees who are in direct interaction with citizens. At best they are considered indifferent, and at worst, they are negative and insulting. If these 8-10% employees are focused for transformation on citizen-centric services using technology, electronic interfaces, toll-free numbers and service quality and functional skills training to instill empathy, responsiveness, reliability and assurance, the government’s image can change drastically and quickly.

Governments create great value at both macro and micro economic levels with what we call “government capital”, by which we mean a bundle of intangible assets that include human capital, information capital (such as the Aadhar, PAN and other systems), leadership capital, innovation and education ecosystems, the Centre/State brand, culture of meritocracy and fairness, execution capabilities and so on. Even with a colossal $13 trillion debt, America is still dominating the world because of its vast government capital. Citizens of countries that invest abundantly into developing their government capital (e.g. South Korea, Singapore, Israel) have benefited tremendously as compared to citizens of countries that have abundant natural resources but poor investment in government capital (e.g.Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Nigeria).

Almost all the intangible assets that form the government capital will be driven by one single asset: human capital. It is the collective skills, knowledge, competency and values of individuals that can be used to create economic value for them, government and the country. And it is here that we need to bring in full focus to enable its productivity, teamwork, leadership and risk-taking skills, citizen-centricity, etc. When that happens, we will not see our natural resources sold off cheaply to a few individuals to make them richer and richer, or throw good money after bad causes such as skilling private citizens by private agencies for profiteering. The rich-poor divide would have been narrowed much earlier and current poll manifestos would finally be free of “garibi hatao” slogans. Transforming India to the New India will then be a reality.

The Medici Institute, along with the autonomous government body, CIPS, strives to address this gargantuan task of building government capital by way of an advanced technology platform, and world-class immersive and problem-solving-based learning formatM-Labs. Whilst expounding the prototype to various ministries, a high-ranking official was heard saying: “What do you mean? We have an excess of human capital!” Little does he understand the human and capital parts of it and how, by developing that, government can have better effectiveness and efficiency that can either lead to better development or lower taxes. There was no budget provision for developing human capital in government even though it required less than 0.1% of the Skill India budget. Perhaps the miniscule outlay and the non-profit angle were phlegmatic to the government. It would probably save upwards of Rs 15000 crore from flagship programmes’ leakages. More importantly, ecosystems will get built, resulting in sustained economic and social impact. But then without the right human capital in place, who will analyse all that for government?

Take for instance the productivity issue in public sector. People are capable and are committed but have lost it over time due to the we-do-it-this-way-here syndrome. No measurement is available today but it certainly lags much behind the private sector. Government must build next-gen skills in employees in four key areas: citizen-centricity, technology and data analytics, innovation and productivity.The New India will need to meet rising citizen expectations by delivering outcomes differently. Citizens expectmore personalisation, and a willingness to go the extra mile – but given the austerity drive, this must be done innovatively at lower costs. Therefore this must force government and NITI Aayog to partner only non-profit organisations lest it goes the Skill India way with profiteering by private players with little tangible outcome. M-Labs was conceived to be unique, based on a partnership model with experts, thought leaders, government folks, and individuals under what we call “personal social responsibility” or PSR.

Two decades ago, a leader had lamented: “If our people don’t know what we are trying to do, we have zero chance for success.” Well, we ought to be wiser today when the “what” part could be consummated with the BEA framework, and the “how” part, with the government capital!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Dr M Muneer

The author is the Co-Founder and Chief Evangelist of Medici Institute, a non-profit organisation committed to driving mission-focused governments in India

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